Mariko Kobayashi, Je Taylor and Deanna Gonnella put wines to the pizza test at Joe’s.
What’s the best wine with a dollar slice?” asked Allison Bart, our tasting coordinator, after wrapping up the April issue. We’d spent the last few months reporting on our Annual Restaurant Poll, focused on a wealth of fine wine from around the world. And we’d been researching our NYC50, the best places to eat and drink in town. We’re not complaining. But, at the time, a dollar slice sounded pretty good. A home-cooked meal, even better. In fact, we dedicate this issue to the wines that keep us going every day—the sort that we buy by the case for summer vacations, or nab on the way home from work, along with a slice or a pie.
You’ll find plenty of options in our Top 100 Values, all $15 or less, an annual compilation that leads off this issue’s tasting section. And rip out the list of the 2018 W&S All-Stars: These are the 50 brands that performed best in our tastings this year, the most consistent producers we found for wines $20 and under. They’re names you can rely on when you’re looking for great values. We also took Allison’s question and posed it to the most plugged-in wine retailers in New York City—though we upped the ante, choosing the $3 slice at Joe’s as the classic NY pizza (sometimes it’s worth paying a few dollars more). Deanna Gonnella, our assistant editor, organized a competition involving the retailers and their brown-bagged bottles, poured into tumblers and tasted at the counter or at the sidewalk tables. The results (p. 30) provide some great drinking for pizza night, from Tuscan ciliegiolo to Piedmont barbera and mencía from Ribeira Sacra.
Interestingly, there wasn’t a Chianti among them, though it’s what you’d drink with pizza in Florence. A number of the retailers wondered out loud if anyone had picked a Chianti Classico; Andy Paynter, of Chambers Street Wines, mentioned that Monte Bernardi was his first choice, but he decided against it, due to the distinctive bottle shape, a fiasco. Stephanie Johnson has also been wondering when people will pick up Chianti Classico again, suggesting it’s on its way back, thanks to a resurgence of interest in Tuscany among retailers and high-profile restaurant wine directors across the US. She reports on the movement, and two exceptional new vintages hitting our shores just in time for summer drinking.
Perhaps the most surprising find out of Italy in this issue is Ramona, one of the latest wines to show up in a can—a phenomenon Tyler Colman covers on page 8. We popped open a couple dozen cans and found a few refreshing fizzy wines worth packing for the beach or a mountain hike. Whether you go for cans or glass bottles, you’ll find a lot of great buys in this issue.
photo by Mike Rush